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fringed apron


pleated skirt




long skirt






long kaftan





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Patterns of Ancient Indigenous Clothing

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Map 1. Types of human clothing (after R. Biasutti and G. Montadon)




        Evolution of human clothing

        The worldwide distribution of clothing




        Types of tribal clothing




        African clothing from tree bark

        Cotton cloth, bandage, fabric

        Capsian and Nachikufan import of circumcission

        Cushitic import of male nudity


        Abasgo-Scythian Headwear



Types of Ancient Tribal Clothing

Beside shelters and huts, another means of protecting man from climatic adversities is found in vestment, clothing, body-wear, footwear and headwear. The principal difference divides axe-tool making plant-gatherers and hunters producing flake tools. The former are remarkable for fringed aprons with hanging stalks of grass, the latter employ loin-cloths out of furs, hides and leather. The first combine vegetal material with vertical fringing and prevail in the African and Oceanic equatorial zone. The second make use of animal substance bound by horizontal wrapping round the waist and dominate in Asiatic steppe grasslands.

Table 1 provides a consistent outline of the evolution of clothing. It suggests that human axe-tool cultures engaged in plant-gathering and agriculture, went out barebreasted and wore fringed aprons out of stalks of grass. The dominant principle of their clothes lay in the vertical orientation of threads and fibres. Their ancestor was Homo erectus, who was responsible for the rise of the Oldowan culture. His cultural level was characterised by pebble-stone choppers and wearing vessels of water on the head. Such customs are observed even today in the African Bantu people, Melanesians and Brazilian Amazonids.

His progeny was differentiated in several stages. The first splinter was formed by Georgids fathered by Homo georgicus (1,2 mill. years ago). He later lived in collective longhouses sloping down to the earth and buried their dead in pithoi jars. The second splinter tore off with Homo ergaster that colonised southwest Europe and later gave rise to Micoquians. His bloom was comparable to the dating of Georgids. The third offshoot originated in Orient and southwest Asia. It concerned Acheulean cultures and its Yabrudian heirs. His special traits are regarded in collective family houses looking like multi-roomed labyrinths. Their favourite customs consisted in initiation rites testing young boys by bull-leaping and bull-fighting. Each of these continental chips shared the common tendency to use vertical designs of herbal fibres.

On the other hand, Asiatic varieties of man such as Homo heidelbergensis gave preference to horizontal designs of weaving and spinning. They lived in colder regions of Asia and South Africa, hunter big-game or smaller ovicaprids. They put up primitive clothes by wrapping leather hides from rabbits and antelopes. Their wrapped their body in a horizontal direction. The first material was derived from the animal kill, later it was replaced by a log piece of woven cloth. It was used for binding turbans around the head, loin-cloths around the hips and shoes around the feet.

Such classifications of different types of body-wear suggest intercontinental parallels linking ethnic groups of remote continents and suggest their steady genetic paradigms. They disclose prehistoric migrations and cognate kinship stemming from ancient ancestors.




Fringed apron [Melanids]: fringed ankle-deep skirt out of grass or leaves common to Negrids, Polynesians, Melanids and Amazonids.

Barebreasted top [Melanids]: in the same ethnic groups women exhibited the naked upper body in everyday social life.

Underlay pad: in these ethnic groups females were accustomed to carry water in cylindrical vessels on the head and cushioned it with textile backplates.


Acheulean fringed skirt: such bodywear peculiar to Oldowan Homo erectus and modern Melanids was observed also in the Near Eastern Neolithic peasantry descending from the Acheulean culture with hand-axe bifaces (the Ubaid serfs in Summer, Mesopotamian Gutians or Hattian thralls in Anatolia); even Cretan chthonic goddesses wore bare naked breasts with long fringed skirts; later Gutian people wore a scaled mantle kaunakes called net dress. 

Frisian costume: long ankle-length pleated skirt and bonnet headwear.

Hittite costume: long ankle-length pleated skirt with a cylindrical fez headdress.


Mantle [Abascoids]: a single sheet of fabric wrapped round the body; most beehive-dwellers wore asymmetric mantles tied with a clasp over the left shoulder; it left the right hand free for throwing the spear and thrusting a lance; such morphology seemed to unite Khoikhoi, Maasai, Basque and Scottish warriors and could be completed with a scarf crossing the breast.

Kaftan [Scythoids, Mongolids]: an asymmetric gown where the left part overlaps the right part and leave the right hand free for holding weapons.

Poncho [Quechua]: mantle with a single hole for the head, Quechua punchu.

Roller bandage: burials of megalithic builders required balsaming, anointing with unctions and mummification in roller bandage from a long piece of cloth.

Beret [Bascoids]: flat bonnet with a headband folded in: Scottish bonnet, Gaelic bonaid, Basque txapela or boneta, Macedonian kausia.

Pakol [Scythoids]: Pashtun and Bactrian flat round beret-like cap.


Sarafan [Uralids]: Uralic ankle-length garment with a floral buttonless collar,

embroidered pectoral, headband, tiara hat or decorated diadem.

Thawb: Arabic white ankle-length gown thawb with a buttonless collar.


Leathern loin-cloth [Pelasgoids]: Asiatic hunters in warm geographic zones wore a piece of fur, hide or leather wound horizontally around the hips and loin. Minoans people wore a perizoma loin-cloth tucked in under the groin.

Toga: a semicircular cloth wound around the body and over one shoulder.

Plumed helm: Minoan Pelasgians wore plumed helms and their wives three-tiered hats with peacock feathers; both wore long, wavy black waved hair tied in knots or plaits.

Wound shawls: even today Cretan males wear a similar shawl petsa skin with fringes hanging down.


Tunic [Celts, Ionians]: popular garment reaching from shoulders to thighs and tied with a belt: Roman tunica, Greek chiton.

Rubashka [Russians, Lapps]: tunic with a belt worn by common villagers.

Hood: red hood with a bumpkin and bells; it was worn by medieval jesters.


Sari [Dravidian India]: one-arm gown hanging on the left shoulder.

Turbans [Turanids]: wound shawls and several-tiered scarves as headwear of Turanids, Akkadian and Babylonian kings; Hebrew turban migbaah for priests, Cretan headwear sariki turban, Amerindian Omaha otter fur turbans.

Headwrap: wound scarves, ties and ribbons, African turban-like headwraps.

Otjikaiva [Herero]: traditional Herero and Damara hat otjikaiva, a horizontal plate-like horned headdress worn with a long ankle-deep dress.

Table 2. The ethnic typology of prehistoric clothing

Extract from Pavel Blek: Ethnic Evolutionary Taxonomy. Systematic Theory and Classification. Prague 2022, pp. 99101